According to a new report from eMarketer, experts predict that the decline of Baidu in favor to Alibaba is due to the new market conditions in Chinese digital business. Alibaba has adapted fast to the last digital ads regulation and currently enjoys the leadership in terms of online advertising revenue.
The Chinese Internet landscape is characterized by the huge prominence of the three technology giants.
As you may know, Baidu is the largest player in China in digital advertising market, Alibaba is the Chinese eCommerce leader firm and alongside both, plays Tencent.
These Top 3 in digital industry are estimated to command a total of 60% in ad revenue in the present year, and amount around $42 billion.
What factors have led Baidu to its future decline?
Although currently Baidu still controls the largest share of the online advertising market, the success of the company in 2015 is far from repetition. Baidu’s share in China’s digital ad market is expected to drop to 21% in 2016, and forecasts are less positive for the coming year.
In early September, in the team we analyzed in our article “New Online Advertising Rules in China” the new online advertising regulation in China and its impact in all digital business with presence in China.
The Internet Ad Interim Measures is a new regulation prompted by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of China. It arose from the Government’s claim by adopt new rules over online advertisement, at the time it was expected to impact on Chinese Digital Marketing as a whole.
As we mentioned before, some fields were subject to special regulation: healthcare, medicine, food and beverage. But new regulations also affect to Internet advertising practices with some other measures: it is required that all paid ads to be clearly marks in search results, prescription medication and tobacco ads have been forbidden and it is already mandatory to certain medical and health products.
From the beginning, these changes were identified by outside analysts as a serious handicap for the future of the company. As Shelleen Shum told,
“We think the impact will be larger on Baidu than on the other search engines given Baidu’s larger market share and its dominance in medical service ads.”
But the coming into force of the new rules, is not the only reason for its current decline. The lack of strong mobile devices is also affecting its ability to attract advertisers.
The main driver in the Chinese market is the mobile platform. As Lyu Ronghui said,
“Huge traffic is the bedrock of online advertising business. But unlike Alibaba and Tencent, which have numerous successful mobile products that can attract traffic from users. Baidu still lacks a new cutting-edge to help jumpstart its slowing traditional search business.”
Facing Baidu, Alibaba has surpassed its rivals taken advantage of the new conditions. As Shelleen Shum explains, its reinforcement is due to,
“Although also affected by the new regulations, Alibaba’s ad revenue, particularly from the mobile sector, shows no sign of abating thanks to the robust growth of its e-commerce retail business.”
Although at present Baidu controls 28% of the online ads marketing, Alibaba is expected to become the largest player in China’s digital advertising market before finishing 2016.
New rules in China
In China, digital landscape changes as faster than imaginable. There are plenty of creative ways to sell your services and products in China, but acting in the hand of a company based in the country, is always a big extra bonus for your business in China.
In search of a Digital Marketing & Ecommerce Agency?
How does Chinese Market work? How can companies promote themselves without Facebook and Google? How do people survive under huge competition there?
China is -still- a mystery for foreigners. The country means a huge cake, but before entering the market you will need to answer to this and other questions. To make it easier to you, in 2 Open we have taken a brief look of the Chinese market and done a list of the most basic tips you should consider before landing in China.
Gone wrong? It can go much worse
When many companies started their business in China for the first time, the things they used quite a lot in local made no sense in China.
Ebay is one of the biggest e-commerce platforms around the world and a perfect example to explain the experiences many foreign companies face in China. Due to its leadership, the company assumed that its landing in China would be no much different to that experienced in other countries, so in the beginning they refused to establish a partnership with JD.com. The company soon realized there were no more choice but to cooperate with them.
What are the most common problems that foreign companies face in Chinese territory?
Foreign enterprises in China often fall into the same shortcomings we analyze below. Let´s see:
First, Always try to show their high-end enterprise images
Foreign enterprises always show their best face: high-quality services, responsible attitude, respect to the customers… and so on. But in China, price is the key and can always be the KPI which attract the customers’ sight immediately.
Second, Focus on high-end target audiences but ignore the rapid growth of China
When companies like Blueberry entered China, they set the target group to those corporate users. As the earliest and past No.1 smart phone, Blueberry had already been famous in China. But within 7 years (2006-2013), they retreated from China and closed their Chinese official website.
When Huawei set off their business, what they did was to set the target audiences as all people who want smart phone. Since the average income of Chinese people is increasing, so that more and more can afford a smart-phone. Huawei was right about its strategy.
Third, Copy the promotion strategy directly to China
Many foreign companies would prefer to make a wonderful advertisement, an amazing poster and advertise in the subway stations, supermarkets… and everywhere. But they always find out that the ROI is quite low, since they might only get 1 customer for a 100 RMB budget. Does it outweigh? We don´t think so.
In China, since the civil quality is still on a shallow level, what the customers care most is whether they are interested in, but not what is a good design. That is why when Taobao.com stepped out their first step, they even promoted on some illegal websites which had huge traffics every day.
Fourth, Think too much about customers but ignore what the customers are thinking about ICQ. The instant messaging software also failed in China!
The U.S. companies are always stricts on protecting the users’ privacy. With such a policy, users can’t find the chat record if they log in on another PC, since the software will not memorize or save these records in order to protect the privacy to the most degree.
Its counterpart in China, Ma Huateng, found out this fault which doesn’t fit the Chinese users’ requirement. In response he created QQ, which is based on the technology of ICQ and make this software become the most-used IMS in China.
Fifth, Rely too much on the Western promotion ways, companies do not want to do things directly
E-mail, Mail and SMS promotion require low budget and have huge audience quantity. Well, they do not make sense in China. For many Chinese people, it is absolutely offensive if they receive advertisement in these channels since they have watched and received too many advertisements already. Moreover, for most Chinese these all are considered private.
They don’t like to be bothered by anything they don’t even know. In China, what people prefer is face to face, no matter if it is for sales promotion or negotiation. The Chinese only trust the people in real life. That’s why when Zhou Hongyi took the responsibility of Yahoo China, he fired all employees who only did E-mail promotion but never visited the clients.
What should you do, then?
First, Pay attention to Chinese culture
Chinese culture is totally different comparing with the Western cultures. Different political systems, different History, different religious beliefs. Thus, the culture strike shows extremely seriously in China.
Your company should do its best to avoid the culture strike and assume their role. We suggest you yo have a look to Lancôme experience in China.
Second, Explore the Chinese consumer behaviour and preferences
Knowing the Chinese consumer behavior and their preferences make the difference. What are the KPIs to attract them? What they care the most? What they pay less attention to? What channels they prefer to get promotion information?
All these questions need to be taken into account when setting up the marketing strategy in China.
Third, Know the correct channels
Due to the firewall in China, many foreign websites (Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are not allowed in the China mainland. Thus, use Chinese sources.
Fourth, Speak that language
Chinese people still prefer to speak Chinese. So, when doing business with them, try Mandarin: it is always more than welcome.
There are still lots of thing we need to explore and learn about China. In search of an Ecommerce and Digital Marketing Agency?
This article has been edited by Paula Vicuña, from 2 Open.
A picture is worth a thousand words
After the great success achieved by our two articles 10 Things You Need To Know To Build a Chinese Website (I) (II), in the team we have thought it would be a good idea to summarize and turn them into an infographic.
We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed its elaboration 🙂
Are you looking for a digital marketing and ecommerce agency?
Visit us. Let´s have a talk!
Nutrexpa was not only one of the first Western companies operating in China in the early eighties, but also a perfect example to explain the hurdles that any company faces in its landing to China.
Nutrexpa paved the way and others followed its footsteps. Its story is an example of tenacity and adaptability to a country that was not what it is today. Many of its experiences are likely to be applied to any company that considers China.
Find the proper battle buddy. Be aware of market dynamics!
In the early eighties, it was impossible to land in the country without the assistance of a local partner and the Chinese authorities.
After over three years of negotiations between the company and the local authorities, the emergence of a suitable local partner –Li Bank-, contributed to the establishment of an alliance, and the subsequent creation of a Joint-Venture.
A tip! This first stage requires flexibility and guangxi. Negotiations with local authorities and the Chinese bureaucracy are not always easy -although is improving every day! -, and finding a proper partner can be difficult.
Do not lose your patience and keep working on building a suitable partnership. It´s worthy!
Sometimes in China, your product will turn into another
After inaugurating in 1990 its factory in Tianjin, Nutrexpa would focus on prospecting of its target market, and also in adaptive demands that China demanded of its product. There, Nutrexpa started producing soluble and powder cocoa drinks.
Nutrexpa had all the ballots to fail on its arrival in China
The biggest pitfall were the eating habits: no milk or cocoa were consumed in China.
How to overcome such a hurdle?
– First, the company took advantage of an extrinsic condition: in the early nineties, the Chinese Government launched a powerful awareness campaign about the importance of milk intake in children. So, stay tuned! Opportunities come and leave!
–Second, Nutrexpa made a big effort to get a closer approach to the taste of their potential customers. To do so, they devised some specific tastes to their products: strawberry, banana and vanilla. Adapt!
–Third, Nutrexpa invested huge amounts on nationwide coverage advertising campaigns –around € 10/12 million per year- , especially on television. This effort managed to position the brand as a product fully recognized in big cities but also among Tier 2 and Tier 3. Now replace TV and imagine the endless possibilities of digital marketing on advertising nowadays!
–And last but not least, the company decided to create a Chinese distinctive brand. It dropped its popular brand name –Cola Cao– to become GaoLeGao, whose literal meaning is tall and jolly.
Choosing GaoLeGao was a marketing tool by itself: the election of positive attributes in a children’s product, makes easier its choice to the detriment of other similar products.
Years later, the company would challenge itself over again with the introduction of Nocilla… in a country in which bread was not consumed.
An another tip! Adapt your products and services to the market. If the name of your brand, colors or labeling are inadequate, change them!
Also never forget registering the name of your brand in Chinese and in your own language! Product customization, labelling and marketing are crucial!
success is sometimes highly unexpected
Despite being widely accepted, the product never reached another audience than children. Neither GaoLeGao nor Nocilla were the most successful.
Surprisingly, Nutrexpa discovered that its Star-product in China was… Phoskitos! Its commercialization never fit in with major purposes of Nutrexpa; after almost thirty years, they took the decision of selling the company and leave China.
What can we learn from the experience of Nutrexpa in China?
When Nutrexpa came to China, there were no previous examples. Fortunately, we are in 2016 and your company has the advantage of landing in the country in the hands of an agency specialized in Chinese business development.
Visit us and boost your sales in this giant we call China!
In the first part of this article, we showed and identified 5 main points that differentiate a Chinese website from its western counterpart that we need to keep in mind in order to build a good one.
Let us summarize some of the main points addressed in the previous article:
- The style, design and structure are more complex and with much more information in opposition to the cleanness of the western websites
- Where to host your Chinese website is one of the first decisions to make. The most of the times we advise you to have a hosting in China. For that you will need a Chinese company to apply for an Internet Content Provider (ICP License)
- The Chinese Great Firewall blocks all websites that do not meet the content requirements that marks the Chinese government
- Your website needs to be ready to integrate with the main Chinese players. Google, Facebook and friends are banned in China; instead you will need to use the BATs (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent).
After this little updating, we would like to further develop this post showing you 5 more crucial things to take in consideration when building a good Chinese website.
When building a chinese website, What else should I know?
6 – CHINA IS MOBILE. BE RESPONSIVE
Adapting our website to mobile is very important in any country, but in China is mandatory.
The Smartphone is, in many cases, the only way they have to access the Internet. Therefore Chinese users are much more familiar with the use of mobile devices. Keep in mind that almost the 50% of all Ecommerce transactions made in 2015 were done via mobile, compared to the also quite high 22% in the United States.
Don’t think any longer and start working on a nice mobile design… Mobile first!
7 – DOMAIN. WHICH ONE IS THE RIGHT OPTION FOR ME
In your approach to domains, three are the main options:
– Not that long ago, to have a .CN was a must. It was not possible to get it if you didn’t have a Chinese legal entity. This has changed over the time and now you can easily get a .cn domain, no matter where your company comes from, just providing a copy of your Company’s ID. As the Chinese international top level domain, your brand might be perceived as having a strong presence in China and might also bring some trust
– On the other hand, we have the .COM domain. Chinese Internet users are increasingly getting used to this domain. Major Ecommerce platforms like Tmall.com, JD.com or Sunning.com may bear much of the blame for this. It can be very good for foreign companies trying to sell their products in the Asian giant to have a .com domain as it might help to highlight the international feel of the brand
– .COM.CN is the ugly duckling in the middle still in use by many brands mixing the good things from the previous mentioned domains, but without reaching their full advantages. In any case it can also be a good solution.
Which language should I use?
Another point to think about is the language to be used. Does your brand have a Chinese name? Then you can also use its pinyin term. Pinyin is the romanization system for standard Chinese: Chinese search engines recognise the pinyin words in the URL and then link them to what they stand for in Chinese characters in order for the website not to lose coherence.
Don’t get crazy about the domain, they are usually not that expensive. So, in case you can afford it, try to get the three of them (.com, .cn and .com.cn), plus their pinyin variants and redirect them to the main one; depending on your strategy.
8 – CONTENT. DON’T GET LOST IN TRANSLATION
It is important to know very well your main target markets as the language will differ depending on it. It might be obvious to mention it, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a company’s target consumer is in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macao and the language used for the website translation was simplified Chinese instead of traditional Chinese and the other way around. That is a major and silly mistake that takes a long time to revert.
I don’t want to mention either the fact that a Google translated web does not help at all, but I am doing it because I have seen too many. It is mandatory to let a professional team take care of the translations. In 2 Open we separate this process in three parts:
- Translation, interpreting the main message that the customer wants to transmit to the final customer, done by a marketing professional in our team
- External review, done by a professional translator outside the team
- Final review, done by another marketing professional in our team
You might not believe it, but in certain cases we still get minor complaints. This is because Chinese language can be interpreted in many different ways. Therefore translations are always a difficult point in the list.
Is Customization a mandatory requirement?
Let’s not forget about the Chinese cultural customization. Website localization embraces translating and localizing a site into different languages making sure all content (text, images and videos) is translated correctly in an accurate, cultural and technical manner.
As stated before when talking about content, we are also talking about images and videos. There are no written rules and it has similarities to the domain section we discussed above. There are brands like Nike or Zara that prefer to maintain their international feel using western models in their multimedia strategy. Many young Chinese users welcome this method, but not all of them. Depends on the strategy you want to follow.
9 – PAYMENT OPTIONS. CREDIT CARDS? NO, THANKS
In the previous post, we wrote about the BATs (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent). In China, the online payments market is currently dominated by two of these two tech giants – Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat payment with 49.2% and 20% market share respectively.
These companies try to increase their market share by adding more brands and merchants within their ecosystem; something that both companies effectively handle. Also cash is king, as cash on delivery holds a strong position. The fast and vast adoption of electronic payments via mobile is likely to counter this trend in due time.
It is actually China and not the US at the leading edge of the trends towards mobile payments technology. Just for putting an example, both WeChat and Alipay have long used the now famous QR codes to let Chinese netizens pay for purchases and transfer money. It seems they have jumped over some natural technological development processes. This kind of behaviours can be quite normal in undeveloped countries that start to grow very rapidly.
What happened is that they adopted the mobile payment technologies even before implementing some existing ones as a huge percentage of the Chinese population accesses the Internet via mobile devices.
Get ready to integrate Alipay in your website as first and mandatory option. And seeing how fast Tencent WeChat payment is growing, that would be your second natural option.
10 – SEO
Once your website is ready, you will need to submit it to Baidu creating a Baidu Webmaster Tools account (only available in Chinese). That way Baidu will be able to index the site properly and your great Chinese adventure starts!
Search engine optimization done in Baidu is not so very different as the one you could do for Google. Anyway, we would like to note a few differences I think you need to know:
– Meta description – unlike Google and Bing, Baidu still uses Meta descriptions as a ranking factor. Keyword targeted description match users’ queries and their demands, which would help with the click through rate (CTR).
– Indexation – Baidu’s web crawling bot, Baiduspider, is not as advanced as the one from Google. As a result, you will need to help Baiduspider to discover and index your pages in different ways. Without mentioning that you can go to sleep and wake up with huge traffic losses or de-indexed pages usually caused by a penalization. Be careful what you do!
– Link building – On Baidu, it is not about the quality of the publishers’ website, it is more about the unique relevancy of the content (as it relates to your content) and the quantity of links to your pages. Baidu penalizes duplicate content and it also disallows irrelevancy. Authority and quality of the publisher is not that important (for now). In short, the more the merrier as long as it is not duplicate.
– Baidu services – Baidu offers a lot of different products apart of Search; use them and leverage their integrated marketing power. The most useful are Baidu Zhidao (questions and answers service) and Baidu Baike (Wiki service), but there are tons of other services that might be helpful to increase brand awareness and for content creation.
As for the tracking, most people use Baidu Tongji and/or Google Analytics. Yes, you read it well; Google Analytics still works in China and it is the only Google service that still does. You will find many detractors, but for what we have seen there is no huge discrepancies between the data collected by both systems (usually not higher than 5%). And Google Analytics has more functionalities than Baidu Tongji.
It is also important to mention the typography. Chinese language is not easy to read due to the difficulty associated to its typography. With 40,000 characters, they are divided in strokes which amount can vary between 1 and 60. Therefore the font size should be at least 12px.
At 2 Open, we would be pleased to help you.Take the advantages the Chinese market offers.
With the cooperation of our Digital Marketing and Ecommerce Agency, China will be at your fingertips.
Do not hesitate to visit us We´d loved to hear from you!
This article has been edited by Paula Vicuña, from 2 Open.
The Canton Fair, held since 1957 in the city of Guangzhou, is currently the largest International Trade gathering in China, and the most successful one in the country. In Spring and Autumn, and for fifteen days, the city brings together importers and exporters from all over the world.
Its 2016 Spring celebration, divided into three sessions of five days each, aims to meet the demands of any business person: Electronics and Household Electrical Appliances; Lighting Equipment; Vehicles and Spare Parts; Machinery, Hardware and Tools; Building Materials; Chemical Products, Energy Resources; Consumer Goods; Gifts; Home Decorations; Textiles and Garments; Shoes; Office Supplies, Cases and Bags; Recreation Products; Medicines, Medical Devices and Health Products; and also Food.
But why exactly is this event so appealing?
Well, with 15,000 manufacturers and fabricants, and over 60,000 stands, it’s not a surprise that it has gained such popularity, besides, its ability to accommodate all of them and generate new trade flows makes it the largest fair in China, and probably in Asia.
Those who attend The Canton Fair can find answers to all of their business needs: economic, technical and human cooperation; logistics, transportation and distribution; insurance and commodity inspection; advertising, public relations and contacts with some of the most buoyant businesses today, you name it.
Its attractiveness is also equal to its capacity to generate wealth among its members: only in 2015, commercial exchanges reached 55.066 million USD.
Who attends to the Canton Fair?
Despite the uncertainty in the global economy and after a slight decline in the last two years, 2016 has been considered a good year to participate in the Canton fair. With more than 24,000 companies confirmed, optimism among the organizers and participants has returned to stay and strengthen the fair’s position as an already global event.
Although the event’s main target group were Asian buyers, in recent years, the presence of Westerners has grown significantly becoming a meeting of international nature in which the presence of developing regions such as India, Latin America and Africa has also increased. Curiously enough, the presence of participants from Hong Kong and Taiwan has been reduced each year.
What are the benefits of the Canton Fair?
Firstly, the continuous and growing exchange of goods between participant countries facilitates the development of the Chinese trade, and consequently, strengthens the Chinese economy.
Secondly, the Canton Fair celebration generates high-level synergies, not only among the participants but also among outside companies. The fair generates quality information on the future of the economy, the most demanded products, leading companies and, goods and services.
Finally, due to its attraction capacity and longevity, the fair has contributed to develop a wide range of alternatives for visiting and enjoying the tour: visas, tickets, hotels and translators are easy to obtain through specialised agencies.
2Open attends every year to both the Autumn and Spring Canton Fairs, being up to date with what is happening in China is a challenge even for our dedicated team who are constantly on the scout for new trends in the industry. We strongly advice anyone who is intending to engage in any business related activities with China to attend this event, it is a great opportunity to grow any business, however, if you want to really turn your business around you should contact 2Open.
Our goal is to understand our clients business needs in order to provide the best possible services. If you have any questions or require any information about our services, please do not hesitate in contacting us, our group of specialists will happily assist you.
This article was edited by Andres Arroyo Olson from 2Open.
January 11, 2016, Zhang Xiaolong, the man behind the curtain of the Wechat Empire, who had never given a public speech before, stepped onto the stage of Wechat Open Class and shared his opinion on Wechat’s values. The fact that Zhang stood out at this moment is a symbol of the crucial timing of Wechat’s commercialization.
Wechat has now approximately 650 million users; the process of monetization has never stopped in its five years’ existence. Long have begun the business services, such as Wechat payment, shopping, taxi ordering service, etc.
In his public speech, Mr. Zhang shared some of his concerns about the future of the Chinese IM giant. He said:
“Wechat Public Platform seems like a media platform, but we prefer the Public Platform to be more than that, we want to focus more on the developers and that is our goal for 2016. Where does this need come from? We found out that more and more start-ups initiate with a Wechat Offical Account instead of developing a mobile application because the latter costs way too much. A Wechat Official Account could achieve almost the same things but more cost-effectively.”
“It was not our intention to become a media platform, we have always wanted to build a platform to provide services,” Zhang said, “that is why we even created a Service Account in Wechat, but it has not quite met our requirements. Now we are developing a new form: Application Account. We hope that with this new form of Public Account, when users follow it, it will be as if they had just installed an application. This Application Account will be in silence mode for most of the time but when users need it; they will easily find it in the app. By doing this, we grant a lot of apps a lighter existing form and simplicity.”
The leader of Wechat also expressed a more strict regulation for commercial activities in Wechat “There will be more restrictions for marketing events in Wechat Moments, because meaningless content will take up users’ time. The same goes for other functions of Wechat, we hope that there is as little information as possible in Wechat, so that the users can focus on their tasks and finish them effectively.”
After trying to make money with advertisements, Zhang said that he wanted the commercialization of Wechat to be invisible and not a disturbing process based on monetizing of traffic.
One possible reason for the creation of the Application Account is that the current Service and Subscription accounts have impaired the users’ experience. Being buried in numerous and complicated piles of information distracts the users from their goals.
How to balance user experience and commercialization?
This is not a new challenge, and not just for Wechat, social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, who already have a mature advertising model based on information flow, come across the same problem every time they try to launch new product for advertising. Unfortunately, there is no existing remedy for this headache.
At the moment, ads in Moments follow several basic rules: if users opt out or just leave it there, the possibility that this ad appears in your friends’ time-line is only 20%. The percentage will rise to 95% if you click, like or comment on it.
Each ad will be able to circulate for seven days, while every single user will only receive one ad within 48 hours. An ad with no likes or comments will be removed within six hours.
We have discussed a lot about the commercialization of Wechat, but is there a possibility that the commercialization of Wechat is not limited by the current models? Could it be possible that the commercialization of Wechat is outside of Wechat?
To understand this, we need to know some fundamental values of Wechat.
- Wechat provides us an essential ID in the era of Mobile Internet – a Wechat account. We use it to keep track of our life and business organizations use it to find us. Before Wechat, the cellphone number was the most important ID, or even earlier we had our e-mail address.
- Wechat has created Public Accounts, this not only solves the problem of digital identity for offline businesses, but also enables a new communication model: one user to many users information exchange, interactive feedback, rich media and mobilization.
- It provides the information flow the highest degree of freedom. We can contact our friends quickly and conveniently by sending messages, sharing information in Moments or through a group chat. All of this has created conditions for a more dynamic flow of money and information.
- This value is still yet unclear however, it would be an important one. Wechat could use Wechat Accounts to locate users and Public Accounts to locate businesses, accumulating trading data between users and businesses so that they could create a “Cloud of consumption”. Based on this cloud, Wechat may provide services like memberships to users or CRM to businesses.
In a word, the commercialization of Wechat is based on output and monetization of these four fundamental values instead of the commercialization of the Wechat as a mobile application itself.
What do you think?
Let us know.
This article was edited by Andres Arroyo from 2Open.